Mayor, city leaders announce plans for new criminal justice center

Details announced Wednesday morning

INDIANAPOLIS - City officials unveiled plans for a new criminal justice center to replace the current jail and dysfunctional aspects of the City-County Building.

Mayor Greg Ballard, Marion County Sheriff John Layton and other city leaders made the announcement at a meeting of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee on Wednesday morning.

The proposal called for one facility to house the Marion County Jail, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, the Marion County Public Defender Agency, the coroner’s office, county courts and other criminal justice-related offices.

The space would have 1,000 additional beds at a new jail and there would be space for 25 to 30 criminal courtrooms.

The complex would not house police or city-county government offices.

The idea for such a facility has been discussed for more than 20 years. More than 70,000 jail inmates are transported through the City-County Building each year. They often cross paths with civilians doing completely different government business.

Government officials will solicit bids from private developers who would build the facility and then lease it back to the city. This means tax dollars would not be needed to finance the criminal justice center.

"Money is scarce. We're doing our absolute best to get through these times. We have to be very cautious of how we spend every public dollar.  If there is someone in the private sector who is willing to pony up and help out, the public sector can get this done," Layton said.

Government officials will start evaluating proposals in February. The City-County Council will vote on the final selection in September.

A site for the new facility has not yet been picked, but the facility would require 35 acres. Layton speculated that the new location would not be downtown, but it would not be too far away. It would also be accessible to public transportation.

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